Cardinal Cottier: “The embryo is human being in formation”

Source: FSSPX News


Speaking a few days before the Italian referendum on assisted conception, Cardinal Cottier expressed the hope that the embryo would be recognized as a human being. “The embryo is a human being in formation,” he said in an interview published on Monday June 6, 2005 by the Italian daily La Stampa.

 Cardinal Cottier specified that from the very beginning, the genetic program is present in the embryo. “And this is a very strong argument for the defense of the embryo as a human being: from the start, it is completely programmed”, he added. According to the Swiss cardinal, the embryo is already an individual, it is not merely a cluster of cells. “Under the microscope, it may appear thus, but it is already an organism, and it is capable of organizing itself, it is potentially human, it is a man.”

 Speaking in the debate which took place in Italy on the referendum, the theologian to the Papal Household expressed the wish that it be “seriously affirmed that this concerns a human being.” He also wanted it to be stated that in vitro fertilization had very little possibility of success. “During a broadcast, I heard it said that there would be more Italian children. That is nonsense”, he said. He added that this experience was very difficult for the woman, because it did not always work and she could not be separated from the suffering. In any case, the success rate for in vitro fertilization is only 20%.

In answer to the argument that the desire to have a child may be very strong, Cardinal Cottier replied that we should look to see how these children are psychologically when they are older. The fact of knowing who is one’s father, remains a valid question, he said. “In some countries they say: the child has the right to know and in other countries, on the contrary, they prefer to hide it (…) In both cases, there is psychological trauma”, he said.

 Asked finally about adoption, the Swiss cardinal added that “the kind of problems with adoption are not easy either, because the child is always looking for his biological parent”. “We have to advise parents who adopt to tell their child that he is adopted”. The cardinal has seen cases where it has been hidden from the child, and the need to seek the biological parents has manifested itself in disturbing ways.

 While refusing to generalize, the theologian to the Papal Household cited an example of a sterile couple he knew: they were unable to have children, so the wife was made pregnant with the sperm of her husband’s brother. “And he (the brother-in-law) became attached to this child, and it was such a tragedy that the father committed suicide (…) In short, what I mean is that these kinds of problems are not trivialities. They are very serious, and they should be treated as such, with wisdom and prudence”.

On January 29, in the columns of the daily Avvenire, Cardinal Cottier was already affirming: “the embryo, being a developing person, it is obvious that it has a soul.”

 On the basis of scientific data, he confirmed: “It concerns above all, the generation of a human being. The parents are neither vegetables nor animals. Therefore, from the very beginning, the embryo is ordained through nature to receive from God, a spiritual soul. It is for this reason that legally, he must be considered as a person”.

 “The theories which deny this concept,” insisted the cardinal, “are incapable of explaining precisely when the moment arrives in the chain of life, when we find ourselves in front of a person.” He added: “We must beware of these bioethical treatises which affirm that human beings are not all of them persons. For example, when one says that an embryo is not a person. But also when it is claimed that someone stricken with Alzheimer’s disease is no longer a person because he is not conscious.”

 Concerning the controversy of frozen embryos, he said: “these embryos should not exist. But artificial conception has a poor success rate, and in order to avoid failures, they increase embryo production. And that is massacre.”